Date:September 14, 2015
Many people come to the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC in order to get help from a Manchester divorce lawyer with child support enforcement. When a child support order has been issued and the parent who is supposed to pay does not, there are several different things that you can do. In order to provide better help to people who are dealing with child support issues, we have addressed below some of the child support enforcement questions a Manchester divorce lawyer is most frequently asked.
What Do You Do When the Other Parent Refuses to Pay Their Court-Ordered Child Support?
Sometimes this can be avoided altogether by getting a wage assignment. However, if there is no wage assignment, or the individual is self-employed, the first step would typically be to file a Motion for Contempt. The court can issue various sanctions, including ordering jail time, to enforce the child support orders.
If Your Ex Moves to Another State, Will They Still Have to Pay Their Ordered Child Support?
To address the problem of parents moving out of state and then refusing to pay their court-ordered child support, Congress passed the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This law outlines what you can do to collect your child support from your ex in their new state. If New Hampshire has jurisdiction over your ex, you can seek to enforce your child support order through the courts here with the help of a Manchester divorce lawyer. If New Hampshire lacks jurisdiction over your ex, you can request that the court send copies of your child support order to the court in the jurisdiction in which your ex lives. You would then request that that court enforce the child support order. You can also travel to the state and personally file an enforcement action with the court or send a copy of your child support order to your ex’s employer to request a wage garnishment. Failing to pay child support to a parent in another state is treated seriously, and in 1998, Congress passed the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, which makes it a felony for a parent to do so.
What if Your Ex Has Simply Fallen Behind in Payments?
If your ex has fallen behind in their child support payments to you, courts treat it seriously. The court will still enforce your child support order and seek the arrearage amount owed to you. Even if your ex has sought and received a reduction in their child support payments, the reduction is not applied retroactively, and they will generally be ordered to pay you the back child support owed in full.
What Happens If You Are Paying Child Support and You Lose Your Job?
If you lose your job and are paying child support, it is important that you seek legal help quickly. The child support order will still be in effect and the payment amounts will continue to accumulate. The child support will not simply disappear when your job ends. You can file a motion to modify your child support amount with the court. Such an order would modify payments going forward (most typically from the date your ex is served with notice of the request for modification), not any arrearages. Accordingly, you should not delay in filing the request for modification and Manchester divorce lawyer at Manning & Zimmerman Law can help you with that process.
Can You Discharge Child Support Arrearage Amounts through Bankruptcy?
While many different types of unsecured debts can be discharged in bankruptcy, federal bankruptcy law specifically forbids discharging back-owed child support through such a bankruptcy petition. Since child support is meant to provide for the support of children, discharging it in bankruptcy would be contrary to public policy and is simply not allowed. Again, if you’ve had a substantial change in your financial circumstances, you can petition the court for a reduction of your payment amount, but your child support will not just simply go away or be discharged in any bankruptcy petition.
If You Got Divorced or Separated from Your Ex Some Time Ago, Will You Be Able to Get a Child Support Order that Will Apply Retroactively?
Child support orders generally are not retroactive before the filing date (there are some exceptions for infants). In the process of a divorce, the court will order child support and will have discretion in determining when the support is ordered to start.
What Happens If You Are Still Married and Your Spouse Won’t Give You Enough to Provide for Your Children?
If you are still married and living with your spouse, it is unlikely that a court will order your spouse to pay you child support. If you are married but living separately and are not receiving child support, you can file a motion for child support from your spouse. There have been a few rare cases across the country in which courts have ordered a spouse to provide financial support for their children when they are still married and living with their spouse, but such cases have had exceptional circumstances.
What If Your Ex Claims You Are in Arrears, But You Have Always Paid Them in Full and On Time?
If your ex has claimed that you are in arrears in paying your child support, it will be your burden to prove that you have made the payments, and if you are unable to prove it, you will be ordered to pay the arrearage amount claimed. This is why it is extremely important that you pay in the manner outlined in your child support order. If you are told to make your payment to the court, do so and do not make your payment directly to your ex. If you are ordered to make payments directly to your ex, never do so in cash and instead use a check or money order. Always require a receipt for your payment and save it. If your ex does claim an arrearage, you will still have to present evidence of your payments to the court, including bank records, receipts, check copies, and witnesses if needed.
Does Shared Parenting Time Mean No Child Support?
Shared parenting time is not in and of itself a reason for a reduction in child support. The court can still order the higher-earning parent to make child support payments to the lower-earning one. If you have your child half of the time and you didn’t before, your amount might be reduced depending on the circumstances of your case.
Do You Have to Pay Child Support If Your Ex Won’t Let You See Your Child?
Child support and parenting time are considered to be separate issues. Even if your ex is refusing to let you see your child, you are still legally responsible for making your child support payments as ordered. If your child’s other parent is actively preventing you from seeing your child, you can file a motion with the court to modify the orders or to hold the other parent in contempt if they fail to comply. Courts generally believe that it is in a child’s best interests to have liberal contact with both parents, and as such, judges do not like it when one parent actively prevents a child from having a relationship with the other parent. However, even if that is occurring, you must still continue paying your child support as ordered and seek relief for visitation and custody of your child through the court. Never withhold child support just because your ex is keeping your child away from you.
It can be very frustrating to have to go through issues with your child support, and you may need to seek legal help from a Manchester divorce lawyer to solve the problems you are having with child support enforcement. Parents who are owed child support and their ex has either fallen behind or is refusing to pay can get help to enforce an order and collect both future child support payments on an ongoing basis as well as any amount owed in arrearage.
What Are Support Modifications and Contempt Motions?
If you are a parent who is ordered to pay child support and you have suffered a significant change in your financial circumstances, you may need help to file a motion to modify your ordered amount with the court. If you have made all of your payments and your ex has filed a frivolous claim with the court claiming that you have not, a Manchester divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC can help you gather the evidence of your payments and present them to the court. Finally, if your ex is wrongfully withholding your child from you, an attorney can file a motion to hold the parent in contempt, or if you do not have a current custody and visitation order, a petition for custody or visitation on your behalf. It is important for you to continue making your child support payments as ordered even while any legal action is pending.
Contact an Experienced Manchester Divorce Lawyer
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